The Summer Olympics of Opera


Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 1.00.57 AMWales may be the most beautiful, haunting, and enchanting land The Pink Flamingo has ever visited.  It is a land of magic, ruined castles, heather, King Arthur, Merlin, and the human voice.

The Pink Flamingo has a had a major complaint with the shallow American listening public for many years.  We don’t take our opera seriously enough. Sure, every other form of crap music is celebrated, but when it comes to opera, it’s to be neither seen nor heard, to the point where, throughout the civilized world, incredible concerts are broadcast live.  Not here, not even on satellite.

Yes, I had one of my infamous, can’t get the opera I want meltdowns the other day.  The Cardiff contest is all over the BBC, but forget about it here.  In the operatic world, and in more civilized parts of the world, the competition is being watched like one does a sporting evening.  Then again, opera is a heck of a lot like baseball.

Every two years, young singers throughout the world vie to become one of the twenty finalists who will have an opportunity to make see who may become the next operatic super-star.


Once upon a time, a handsome young baritone was told, by his mentor, that he was going to compete in the Cardiff Singer of the World.  Not able to speak a word of English and rarely having left his native lad, our young hero hid behind the pretense of looking like a rock star, instead of a baritone.  According to legend, the moment he stepped into the competition hotel, one  of the judges told another that, they had no idea who he was, but that was their winner.

The rest is operatic history.

The biannual competition began in 1983.  Winning does not necessarily guarantee one a path to super-stardom as it did in 1989 when two of the greatest male vocals in the world today competed head on for the Waterford bowl.


There was only one winner, and yes, he still opera’s only real rock star.

This year’s final will take place in just a few days, on Sunday.  This year there are some excellent young baritones vying for the prize.

I happen to like Alexey Bogdanchikov, from Russia.  Maybe it’s time we just admit there’s something about a Russian Baritone!  Barihunks has a a bit more on the baritones performing this year.  I don’t like Luthando Qave from South Africa.  He was terribly off in his competition.

The Pink Flamingo thinks that American mezzo, Jamie Barton, also a Richard Tucker grant (Career) winner, is incredible.  She reminds me of Marilyn Horne, and I don’t really like mezzos.  Like I tweeted last night, I’d go hear her.

The Pink Flamingo found a clip from Wednesday’s concert in Red Square.  Unfortunately, baritones like this come around only once in a generation or so.  That’s why we celebrate them.  The 1989 winner was at his best on Wednesday.


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